The attitude of many New Zealanders is ‘you can turn your hand to anything usually inventing something useful in your Kiwi shed’. Ian Ross says, “I think the number-8 fencing wire metaphor is a little tired these days, but to a degree it is still true; I’ve been in departments where we have bolted solutions together, without spending hundreds of thousands on third party product suites. The final result has been better than if we had purchased a solution.”
The number-8 fencing wire mentality relates to a typical Kiwi being a problem solver, lateral-thinking type, with an ability to invent or fix anything with what’s available in their shed; a farmer would typically use number-8 fencing wire to fix a number of his farming problems. For example one Kiwi farmer has patented a bent piece of the wire, with the purpose of holding up plastic containers to feed animals on the farm.
“Kiwis when compared to places overseas that I have had exposure to seem more accepting of testing,” says Ross. “We are used to mucking in and therefore a tester is not there so much to tell the developer he has got it wrong, but you’re a second pair of hands to make sure you’re doing it right. I think that attitude fits well within the New Zealand culture.”
I like bringing other things into the profession, for example if we are talking about exploratory testing, I bring concepts regarding breaking down and searching a problem space like those we would use to search a large park. We, as professionals, should be looking outside of our own little patch, [such as] concepts and ideas from operations research, systems modelling, games theory and AI.
Since exhaustive testing is impossible we need to be continually thinking about how likely is it that something will go wrong and any consequences.
“New Zealand has been a primary industry-based economy and our IT industry has largely been in a supportive role, but I think times are changing, the world is shrinking. I think that for New Zealand IT outsourcing is an obvious market to focus on. New Zealand is not the cheapest place to outsource to, but we are not the most expensive by a long shot. We offer the ability to develop solutions to hard problems, rather than just providing many ‘cheap’ workers. We have a western business culture and natively speak English. Even the time difference is sometimes an advantage. I think there is a niche here that will be exploited in the years to come. I have already seen small examples; however it has been due to pre-existing relationships as opposed to going out to get work from the international market.”